Belmonte, Portugal

SSC Rabbi Elisha Salas, 53, a native of Chile, began as the Shavei Israel envoy to the Bnai Anusim communities in northern Portugal in August 2010. He holds a degree in Accounting and Administration, and taught courses in Religious Studies at the University of Santiago de Chile.

Rabbi Salas, came to Israel in 1999, living in Jerusalem, with his wife and four children. Immediately after he moved to Jerusalem, he began his religious studies and rabbinical training at the Shehebar Sephardic Center in the Old City of Jerusalem. Today, he is certified as a Community Rabbi and Spiritual Leader, Professor of Religion, Shochet (ritual slaughter of animals), and Mashgiach Kashrut (Supervisor of kosher food).

Rabbi Salas lives in Belmonte, Portugal, working with the B’nai Anusim (children of the forced) who converted back to Judaism in the 1990s. The community was formalized and has established itself in all halachic aspects. As the descendants of Sephardic Jews, they lived in northern Portugal from the 1492 Spanish Expulsion until today.

Rabbi Salas teaches Torah, Halacha, Hebrew, and gives lessons to prepare Bar-Bat Mitzvah children. He oversees the shechita and kashrut to provide the community with kosher food. He also works with families as they go through shiva, the Jewish mourning period, cultural traditions, and transmits to the descendants of B’nai Anusim respect for social and educational activities dealing with normal Jewish life as well as the necessity to learn about their Jewish roots.

Rabbi Salas especially loves working with youth. He helps community teens and young adults to identify jobs, and encourages the love of Eretz Israel in the hope that they will make aliyah.